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Mulholland Ridge

Los ­Angeles’s scenic and storied Mulholland Drive/Highway skims across the crest of the Santa Monica Mountains from the Hollywood Hills all the way to Ventura County. If Mulholland were ever extended farther eastward from its eastern end, it would probably snake along the sharply defined ridge between Mount Lee and Mount Chapel in Griffith Park. But for now, and probably forever, the phenomenal views both north and south from this ridge remain the privilege of self-propelled travelers only. For the purpose of this hike description, these self-propelled travelers include only those on foot (or paw, in the case of dogs). Mountain biking is not allowed on the dirt roads and trails of Griffith ­Park.

To get to the starting point, drive into Hollywood using the Hollywood Freeway (U.S. 101). From Franklin Avenue, a half mile east of the Hollywood Freeway, turn north on Canyon Drive. Follow Canyon Drive all the way to its far end. ­There’s room for parking in a small lot here or back a little way alongside Canyon Drive ­itself.

Nearby — just east and possibly worth a side trip at some point — lie Bronson Caves, which are the remnants of quarrying operations during the early 20th Century. The excavations were later used as an outdoor set for plenty of Hollywood film and television productions, including the 1960s television series Batman.

Our hike, however, starts at the end of Canyon Drive and proceeds past a gate onto the dirt-road extension of Canyon Drive, which climbs steadily up the east slope of a ravine known as Brush Canyon (or, alternately, Bronson Canyon). After 1.1 miles (and 600 feet of elevation gain) you come to an intersection of a fire road known as the Mulholland Trail (Mulholland Highway on some older maps). Turn right and continue climbing a little until you reach the paved-but-closed-to-auto-traffic Mount Hollywood Drive. Make a sharp left there, walk on pavement for another 0.2 mile, and then cut left on the wide path going up along the southeast slope of Mount Chapel. The path leads to a water tank just north of the peak itself, and you can improvise a route to the 1614-foot summit. ­You’ve gained about 1000 feet of elevation to get here, and a great view is one reward for that ­effort.

On Mount Chapel you almost feel like ­you’re flying as you gaze a thousand feet down on the Hollywood foothills to the south and the tidy green spaces of Forest Lawn Memorial Park to the north. When ­you’re satisfied with the complete view, return to Mount Hollywood Drive and head back the same way you ­came.

This article contains information about a publicly owned recreation or wilderness area. Trails and pathways are not necessarily marked. Conditions can change rapidly. Hikers should be properly equipped and have safety and navigational skills. The Reader and Jerry Schad assume no responsibility for any adverse ­experience.

MULHOLLAND RIDGE
Get a comprehensive view of the L.A. metropolis from Griffith Park’s highest ridge.
Distance from downtown San Diego: 125 miles
Hiking length: 3.6 miles round-trip
Difficulty: Moderate

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Los ­Angeles’s scenic and storied Mulholland Drive/Highway skims across the crest of the Santa Monica Mountains from the Hollywood Hills all the way to Ventura County. If Mulholland were ever extended farther eastward from its eastern end, it would probably snake along the sharply defined ridge between Mount Lee and Mount Chapel in Griffith Park. But for now, and probably forever, the phenomenal views both north and south from this ridge remain the privilege of self-propelled travelers only. For the purpose of this hike description, these self-propelled travelers include only those on foot (or paw, in the case of dogs). Mountain biking is not allowed on the dirt roads and trails of Griffith ­Park.

To get to the starting point, drive into Hollywood using the Hollywood Freeway (U.S. 101). From Franklin Avenue, a half mile east of the Hollywood Freeway, turn north on Canyon Drive. Follow Canyon Drive all the way to its far end. ­There’s room for parking in a small lot here or back a little way alongside Canyon Drive ­itself.

Nearby — just east and possibly worth a side trip at some point — lie Bronson Caves, which are the remnants of quarrying operations during the early 20th Century. The excavations were later used as an outdoor set for plenty of Hollywood film and television productions, including the 1960s television series Batman.

Our hike, however, starts at the end of Canyon Drive and proceeds past a gate onto the dirt-road extension of Canyon Drive, which climbs steadily up the east slope of a ravine known as Brush Canyon (or, alternately, Bronson Canyon). After 1.1 miles (and 600 feet of elevation gain) you come to an intersection of a fire road known as the Mulholland Trail (Mulholland Highway on some older maps). Turn right and continue climbing a little until you reach the paved-but-closed-to-auto-traffic Mount Hollywood Drive. Make a sharp left there, walk on pavement for another 0.2 mile, and then cut left on the wide path going up along the southeast slope of Mount Chapel. The path leads to a water tank just north of the peak itself, and you can improvise a route to the 1614-foot summit. ­You’ve gained about 1000 feet of elevation to get here, and a great view is one reward for that ­effort.

On Mount Chapel you almost feel like ­you’re flying as you gaze a thousand feet down on the Hollywood foothills to the south and the tidy green spaces of Forest Lawn Memorial Park to the north. When ­you’re satisfied with the complete view, return to Mount Hollywood Drive and head back the same way you ­came.

This article contains information about a publicly owned recreation or wilderness area. Trails and pathways are not necessarily marked. Conditions can change rapidly. Hikers should be properly equipped and have safety and navigational skills. The Reader and Jerry Schad assume no responsibility for any adverse ­experience.

MULHOLLAND RIDGE
Get a comprehensive view of the L.A. metropolis from Griffith Park’s highest ridge.
Distance from downtown San Diego: 125 miles
Hiking length: 3.6 miles round-trip
Difficulty: Moderate

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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